Last week, I shared some emails from readers explaining why they use coupons, what they’re saving for and what couponing has meant to them. I also heard from a few readers who do not use coupons, and their reasons for eschewing coupon discounts are interesting, too. Here are some of their responses:
You asked why people coupon. I can tell you why I do not.
I don’t coupon because I don’t buy processed foods, except a few crackers and canned tomatoes. Out of 100 possible coupons in a flyer, there might be two I could use, so the wasted time is more valuable than the 50 cents I could have saved by buying four tubes of not-my-favorite brand of toothpaste. I’m happy that so many people seem to save so much by using coupons, but it worries me to think about what they are actually eating and I question the nutritional price they are paying.
I rarely see coupons for fresh produce, certainly not organic veggies or pastured meats or organic dairy products. I do follow the text message specials at my local healthy foods emporium and stock up when things are on sale.
I have learned from you (thank you!) to follow the price trends and stock up when things are lowest, but don’t usually have coupons for those items, since I don’t spend time searching for them. My grocery store also offers 20 percent discount gas cards, which I religiously purchase. I’m a warehouse club member and buy most of my laundry and household products there, along with huge boxes of oatmeal and organic ground beef and butter.
I happily use these money-saving tricks, but anytime I’ve actually tried to plan my shopping around coupons, it has been a huge waste of time for almost no return. There are a few exceptions: I save coupons I receive from clothing stores where I shop, and might use one out of 30 of those if I need something before they expire. But if I let myself shop just because I have a coupon, I spend more and buy things I do not need.
I do enjoy the column, and I’ve learned a lot from you, especially about timing my purchases. So, just as I plan my menus around what is seasonal, I also add in those things that are at their lowest cycle. But most of what I eat is perishable, and except for dry beans, rice and trash bags, stockpiling is out for me. My menu planning starts with a weekly trip to the farmers’ market. I use the grocery store to supplement the fresh foods I buy.
For some of us, it just isn’t worth it. I would be buying foods of lesser quality with more additives, preservatives and empty calories just so I could save a few dollars. I can’t see how it’s worth it.
I don’t know if I am like a lot of your readers, but I don’t use coupons. I really have learned a lot from you, and I enjoy saving money, but I don’t want to take the time to clip or organize. What I have done though is learned to watch sale cycles and do the same stocking-up you do, just without worrying about coupons. I can recognize when something is at a low price, and then I will stock up on cereal, soup, cleaners, what have you.
I don’t stock up like crazy but I have some garage shelves and a pantry where I put my groceries. I really like the “shop at home” idea I have learned from your column and find I don’t have to go to the store for spontaneous buys or things I ran out of.
I know I could save more with coupons, but I work long hours at an intense job. I think I have found a happy medium to balance the time I spend shopping with how much I can save now.
Jill Cataldo, a coupon workshop instructor, writer and mother of three, never passes up a good deal. Learn more about Super-Couponing at her website, www.jillcataldo.com. Email your own couponing victories and questions to jill@ ctwfeatures.com.